Bringing Baby Home

Tips for keeping your new arrival (and yourself) safe and health for the holidays.

bringing newborn homePregnancy and delivery are exciting times, but bringing your baby home is a true test for new parents. The holiday period, with its fickle weather and fluctuating schedules, can have particular challenges.

“To prepare, take advantage of your time in the hospital,” says Jon Sicat, DO, Interim Director of the Pediatric Health Center at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. “Ask questions, have our nurses demonstrate things you’re unsure about, seek assistance with feeding from one of our lactation consultants. They are experts in newborn care.”

Road Trip

Before you can leave the hospital with your newborn, you will have to show that you have a car seat safe for transport. In New Jersey, the law re̍quires that all children under the age of 2 years and 30 pounds be secured in a rear-facing seat e̍quipped with a five-point harness. Check to make sure the car seat is properly installed and practice its proper use to lessen the stress of bringing your newborn baby home.

Colds and Flu

Viruses are more prevalent in the fall and winter months. Children younger than 6 months of age have the highest risk for being hospitalized from flu compared to children of other ages. However, they are too young to get a flu vaccine. Be sure that you get vaccinated so you are less likely to spread the virus to your newborn, and make sure that other household members and caregivers also get vaccinated. In addition:

  • Keep yourself and your baby away from people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect fre̍quently touched surfaces (doorknobs, remote controls, refrigerator handles, etc.). 
  • Speak up if needed.

“Anyone coming in contact with your newborn should wash their hands, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer,” says Dr. Sicat. “I tell parents to say, ‘My pediatrician told me to tell everyone to clean their hands before they touch the baby.’ It’s also okay to tell someone you don’t want them to hold your baby. There will be other opportunities for them to cuddle with baby down the line.”

Frightful Weather

Follow this general rule of thumb from the American Academy of Pediatrics: Infants should wear one more layer than adults. In other words, if you’re wearing a hat and a coat, your infant will probably need a hat and coat, plus a blanket. Also, remember that too many layers may place the infant at risk of overheating. Sweating in the neck area may indicate that the infant is too warm.

A Better Bed

Sleep schedules can be difficult to establish, and holiday celebrations may prevent you from following any schedule at all. The most important thing when it comes to sleep is that it’s safe. Safe to Sleep, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, advises: 

  • Have the baby sleep on a firm and flat surface, not on soft surfaces such as a couch, pillow or blanket.
  • Place the baby on his back to sleep, at night and for naps.
  • Keep cribs free of blankets, bumpers and stuffed animals.

A Lifeline if You Need It

Many women experience the “baby blues,” and these usually resolve on their own after a few days. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 10 percent of women go on to experience feelings of postpartum depression, which are more intense and last longer.

If you are feeling disconnected, if you are withdrawing from loved ones or if you are worried that you may harm your baby or yourself, talk to your doctor.

To learn more about women's health at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, click here.